85-year-old gran spent 12 months abroad in four years

THE Rockhampton pensioner at the centre of the public housing furore says the last time she spent three months in the United States she was at the bedside of her critically ill son.

She also confirmed that she had spent two other three-month stints in the US in the two years before that.

The Morning Bulletin reported on Tuesday that the woman, 85, had been told she could not make a three-month visit to the US this year to see her son and his family.

The State Government's new temporary absence policy means public housing tenants can only take up to four weeks of holidays each year.

The woman, who did not want to be identified, said she could not understand the decision given that the rent, which comes directly out of her pension, would still be paid on her unit during her absence.

Keppel MP Bruce Young wrote a letter to the editor, saying he felt compelled to respond to the article.

He said that under the old Labor policy, a social housing property could be left vacant for up to 12 months as the tenant went on an extended holiday or was in prison, with as little as $11.50 a week being paid in rent.

He said that was unfair to the thousands of people still stuck on the waiting list.

"The Rockhampton pensioner referred to in the article wants to take another three-month holiday," Mr Young wrote.

"I wish to clarify that in the last four years she has in fact spent a total of 12 months travelling overseas.

"This is a regular occurrence and is not something that has just come out now. She is frequently away from her property."

Mr Young said the new policy was not about being tough; it was about being fair to those who were on the social housing waiting list and looking to get a place.



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